GRS | Title’s Richmond office recently completed services on a landmark property development in the city of Petersburg, VA.
Earlier this month, a local developer and Richmond-based restaurateur opened Farmers Market Restaurant & Bar at 9. E. Old Street in the Old Town district of Petersburg.
The historic, 10,000 square foot structure was built to serve as the city’s primary Farmer’s Market back in 1879. According to the National Register of Historic Places, the site’s origin as Petersburg’s City Market goes back even further than that—all the way to 1787.
As the city’s first and primary farmer’s market, a deed back in the 1860s requires the city to continue a farmer’s market operation on the site. The developers have embraced this concept and will incorporate vegetable and other market goods into the restaurant’s seasonal menus.
“Deed restrictions like this are often buried in the older, historic properties,” said Steve Francis, GRS | Title Director. “And this is a great example of why competent title searching, and a high quality title insurance policy, are so important. If we had not searched all the way back to the original 1860 deed and some other use of the building was being proposed today—like a clothing store, for example—that could have lead to a claim down the road.”
Michelle Rogers, GRS | Title’s national title officer who spearheaded the project, echoed Francis’ sentiment. “GRS | Title enthusiastically took on this project as we specialize in the challenge of serving older and historic properties,” said Rogers. “We uncover many of these restrictions when we search. This particular property, being owned by the City of Petersburg, required us to go back to the deed in 1860. Deeds this old are hand written and in this case, the legal was illegible. In cases like this, where the deed is in a bound book, the city’ s clerk’s office does not allow copies to be made as it could damage the book and the handwritten document. It has been my experience as an examiner and underwriter, that searching title back this far allows you to glimpse into the past and going forward is like putting together a historic puzzle. It’s quite a fascinating look back in history and we have lots of great stories about what we find.”
The City of Petersburg, VA has a very rich Civil War history and the project’s developer sees this as a great way to preserve and enhance the experience for locals and visitors alike. The restaurant will seat 200 and serve fine seafood and meat dishes. In addition, a local Petersburg brewing company will feature craft beers at a large bar built into the center of the building.
The Farmers Market Restaurant & Bar is located very close to Petersburg’s historic train station—the South Side Railroad Depot. Built c. 1854, it is the oldest railroad station in Virginia. The National Park Service will use this station for primary rail service to Petersburg National Battlefield visitors. The Siege of Petersburg, lasting 10 months, was the longest military event of the Civil War. This conflict led to the fall of Richmond, the surrender of Robert E. Lee, and the end of the Civil War.